Jul 6, 2011

Cavo at Water Music Hoboken, NJ

Made it back to the fantabulous cavernous main tracking room at Water Music with producer Kato Khandwala to work on tracks for the band Cavo with drummer Chad La Roy. The studio is one of the biggest left in the NYC area and it is a real pleasure to track drums there, what with the resident Neve board and fantastic local pizza.
Looking at the pictures you can see that we used baffles or gobos to contain and corral the sound of the kit. This is common practice in recording studios. It helps balance what the room mics "hear" and by controlling some of the sound reflection the room doesn't get too overpowered by the volume of the drums.

Jun 15, 2011

Dropkick Murphys at Q Division - Somerville, MA Oct 20, 2010

Old friends Dropkick Murphys pulled into Q Division back in October to record "Going Out In Style" with producer Ted Hutt. It was business as usual for us, this being my sixth record with the Boston-based Celt-rockers. Drummer Matt Kelly is one of the more idiosyncratic drummers I know, and as I've mentioned before, his style is grounded in drum corps playing and mixed with an exacting technical approach unique to punk rock. In other words he has his own voice and like the band itself, has spawned some imitators.

We used Matt's fine DW toms (with clear Emperors for a change) for the record but I brought in my Eames 20x15" kick out of retirement to give a quick, punchy attack to the drum sound.

One thing that is often overlooked at a session is the type of beater chosen for the kick drum pedal. The beater and head combination make a great impact (pun intended) on the drum sound, so I usually carry at least 10 different types of beaters in my toolbox and always encourage engineers and producers to explore the different sounds available from the different surfaces. On this particular session we settled on a Vater wood beater, but not before trying out three other beaters. I've really become attuned (yes!) to honing in on the right sound for the project, although in this age of computer editing and Sound Replacer, the sounds that are recorded are not necessarily the ones that end up on the record.

Catch Up Time

Okay, so a lot of you have contacted me and asked "Hey Jon, what the hells is going on with the blog? Did you stop being a drum tech? Did your reality show American Drum Tech get picked up by the History Channel? Is it true a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth? What gives?" Ann Oy Ing - Parma, Ohio

There's no real excuse except that life has gotten busy and I've let my entries in the blog lapse for a bit. I'll do my best in the future to keep up. For now I'll throw a few pics at you of some of the myriad jobs I've worked on in the last 10 or so months.

From top down:
1. Jamie Perkins at House Of Loud for Miasha Fisher record
2. My 1960's Ludwigs with my 20x15" Eames bass drum onstage for a gig
3. Mark McCarthy of The Death Of Paris tracking at Scott Riebling's studio
4. Marc Cannata recording for Brittany Gray at The Outpost

May 24, 2011

So Long MoonGels, Good Riddance!

Ringing in at an average of $5.00 - $8.00 a pack, using Moongels to dampen your drum's resonance can be an expensive proposition. As you can imagine, I use a lot of Moongels in the course of my duties as a drum tech I'm sure over the years I've spent a few hundred bucks on the little buggers. They always seem to go missing or lose their stickiness (and before I get e-mails from you guys, yes I know that they can be washed and re-used). It always seemed like a ridiculous amount of money to spend for very little product.

Drum guru John Aldridge recently showed me an inexpensive alternative to my costly Moongel habit. They are called gel clings and they're used by the general public as window decorations. I get mine at my local Target for $1.00 - $2.00 a package. Besides performing the exact same function as MoonGels at a fraction of the price, they are much more festive...

Oct 17, 2010

EXCLUSIVE Sneak Peak of Chad Smith's Drum Kit from the New Red Hot Chili Peppers Record

Chad Smith sent me this exclusive photo of his Pearl kit (with DW kick drum) straight from the L.A. studio where the Red Hot Chili Peppers are recording their next record. You saw it here first!

Oct 10, 2010

Drum Heaven Limited Edition Shoes?

I just wasted an hour online at Converse.com's hip Flash site designing my own two-of-a-kind Drum Heaven Limited Edition Ox Leather Chuck Taylor kicks. I made the shoes black (for formal gigs) with red trim (in honor of my red Eames drums). I like wearing Chucks when I play: I can feel the kick and hi-hat pedals better than with a heeled shoe, and it's the next best thing to playing barefoot. Some drummers enjoy using a heavier shoe - Buddy Rich famously wore boots when he played and from what I can tell it really didn't impede on his technique at all. ;-)

Vote on your favorite drumming shoe at the ballot on the right.

Follow this link to check out Drum Heaven Limited Edition Chuck Taylors on Converse.com.

Sep 9, 2010

John Aldridge - Drum Tech, Drum Engraver, Or Drum God?

My good friend John Aldridge recently came through Boston in his role as drum tech for Bryan Hitt of REO Speedwagon. You may remember John from some of my earlier posts. He is America's premier drum engraver, having "scratched" drums for Ludwig, DW, Tama, Joyful Noise, and your's truly among many others. John was also at the forefront of the vintage drum craze - he founded Not So Modern Drummer magazine, the vintage drum bible for many of us drum geeks. Suffice to say, he has forgotten more about drums than most people know.

John has created yet another drumset masterpiece with Bryan and I had a chance to climb atop the riser and get a closeup look at the double bass drum Ludwig kit. Let's ask him how he put that bad boy together.

John writes:

Well, since you asked, the kit that you see in the pictures was the first one made with the Mint Oyster Sparkle finish. Bryan saw a swatch of the finish at the last NAMM show and ordered a kit on the spot. The configuration of the set is 10" 12", 14" 16" toms, all standard depth, 14X22 BD's, 10x22 Woofers, all with Ludwig Super Classic shells, and Keystone series hardware. It's not a stock, off the shelf kit in that the drums in the Keystone series have a different shell. The drums sound really good and I like the look of the new keystone lugs and brackets.
The rack is the result of an evolving concept that started a few years ago with Bryan's previous rack. I'm a big fan of racks and I had seen enough Gibraltar stuff to get an idea for a curved rack that would eliminate all the other hardware. When it came around to building a new rack, I suggested using rack tubing in curved sections instead of the cymbal stands with all the joints and angles in them. Bryan gave me enough rope to hang myself and here's the result. It's a fairly whimsical rack in that there are no right angles to be found. Even the side curves are at upswept angles to create the right positioning of each cymbal at the end of the vertical bars. All of the tubes used in the new rack were ordered in Gibraltar's longest size to insure consistency of the curves. After using two of these tubes for upright corners and two more for horizontal crossbars on each side, I cut sections and used Gibraltar's angle clamps, adaptor ends and t-legs to make it a homogenous looking rack with as little "non-rack" hardware as possible. With the exception of the cymbal tilters, which are all made by taking the boom arm off a Ludwig Mini-boom and cutting about half the tube off, the only non Gibraltar pieces on the racks are the mic stand adaptors and overhead booms.
The middle rack is a conglomeration using two one legged snare stands with t-legs added for stability on the front and back. Then the two are connected with another rack bar at the base of each "T". I then use rack clamps and mic stands attached to that bar to mike the top and bottom of the snare drum from below. All of this eliminates the need for visible mic stands on the kit. The tom mics clamp onto the hoops, and the bass drums and woofers are all miked internally.
Any Questions? Ask away. I can be reached at NSMDjohn@aol.com. And by the way, thanks for saying all that nice stuff about me Jon, but you still can't have my Radio King 24" bass.
Love ya!
Your twin brother from another mother
John Aldridge

During some downtime, John kept his engraving skills (and tools) sharp by scratching designs onto an aluminum water bottle. He also told me about an exciting new venture he will announce in the near future that will put all his substantial drum knowledge to good use. Stay tuned.

Click on the photo below to see more pics. Watch in "Slideshow" mode for the best view.

John Aldridge Comes To Boston

Take Your Drumset To Work and Other News

It's about time for me to post some drum-related news, don't you think?

1) File this Under WTF!

2) Bonham Tribute In L.A. with Perkins, Aronoff, and... Bonham!

3) Feeling Obese? Try Drumming sez Clem Burke

4) Chickenfoot and Smith's Swansong Or Hiatus?

5) Slayer's Dave Lombardo Does Video Interview

6) Might Get A Little Cold In Siberia For Headhunter Mike Clark

Sep 6, 2010

Drum Head Changing and Tuning

I've gotten a lot of e-mails from readers asking me about this, so I'm re-posting a link to a tutorial I did for my friends over at Vater Percussion - Drum Head Changing and Tuning

Aug 19, 2010

Richie Hayward 1946 -2010

We lost the great Richie Hayward to liver cancer this week. Richie was one my earliest and most important drum influences. His talent, taste, and pocket were without peer. If you're not familiar with Richie's drumming you owe it to yourself to check it out. One of the best examples of his talent can be found on Little Feat's wonderful live record "Waiting For Columbus".

Here's his obit in the New York Times.

Aug 15, 2010

J. Geils Band @ Fenway Park - Boston, MA 8-14-10

What a week! I started in New Jersey working on Cold's new record, then drove back up to Boston to work with The J. Geils Band on their gig with Aerosmith at Fenway Park in Boston. Drummer Marty Richards used his fine Pearl Masters Premium drums and Zildjian A Custom cymbals. Besides having the best seat in the house for the gig, I was able to wander through Fenway and sit in the Red Sox dugout and pretend I was in the major leagues. Some of us will never grow up!

Aug 11, 2010

Cold @ House Of Loud - Elmwood Park, NJ 8-10-10

It's studio tan time down here at the House Of Loud in New Jersey working with drummer Sam McCandless and his bandmates in Cold. We're just tracking a few songs and Sam likes to keep it simple drum set-wise: kick, snare, rack, and floor, hi-hats, crash and a ride, so my job is easy. Even easier if you consider that mixing legend Dan Korneff got great sounds (before we even noticed he was trying to get sounds) and producer Kato Khandwala is sprinkling his hit-making magic dust on the proceedings.
The vinatge Gretsch bass drum "tunnel" is a new twist on an old studio trick. Instead of the common ploy of using just a headless shell to get a longer chamber (and hence a deeper sound)for the air to move through, I keep the batter head on the Gretsch, allowing it to take the original attack of the DW and use the older shell as a second resonator. For some reason this works better than a double-headed kick drum or just a shell used as a tunnel.

Aug 10, 2010

Time to Take In The Trash

Twas' a cold day in April when I walked out of my front door and I spied a familiar shape in the trash pile in front of the middle school across the street. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a 26x14" Ludwig marching bass drum. Just by chance I was playing on a session the next day at Camp St. Studios with the After School Kids and the song called for a deep kick drum sound. Even more serendipitous was the fact that the wrap on the Ludwig almost matches my Fire Engine Red Eames tom-toms. Engineer Adam Taylor miked up the beat and got a great sound. On the last downbeat of the last take my bass drum beater broke through the old head.

Eksi Ekso @ Scott Riebling's Studio in Raynham, MA 3-23-10

It's August and I'm just finally catching up with my blog posts. Thanks to all of you who lovingly busted my chops for not posting in awhile. Things have been relatively slow and I've been typically lazy but I haven't forgotten about you. I promise I'll call soon. The check's in the mail. There was a possible deal in the works for the blog to be sponsored by a drum-related company, but alas like so many ventures in this business of music, it fell through. That being said...

In March I spent a pleasant afternoon at my good friend Scott Riebling's excellent new studio in Raynham, MA while drummer Alex Mihm and his band Eksi Ekso recorded tracks for their upcoming opus. Alex and Scott had already sorted out most of the drum sounds by the time I arrived so my role was more of a straw boss or Monday morning quarterback than a drum tech. Alex posted an excellent entry on his blog here. The basic kit was Scott's Tama Starclassic augmented by many snare drums including Alex's 14x6.5" Ludwig Supraphonic, Scott's Noble and Cooley Alloy snare as well as his Yamaha 6.5" and 5.5 " Manu Katche drums, and my Raw Brass and Pearl Sensitone snares.

Thanks to Alex for the pic of him playing. What a stud.

Mar 18, 2010

Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless @ Water Music, Hoboken, NJ

It's time for Round 2 of the sessions that will become the new release by Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless on Innerscope Records, this time at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ. It's the old gang of Taylor, producer Kato Khandwala, guitarist and co-writer Ben Phillips, and rock-solid drummer Jamie Perkins. We're getting great sounds in WM's big room with my fave snare of the moment, my hot-rodded 14x5" Pearl Brass Sensitone. We've been using Jamie's 22x20" Ddrum kick and my Eames toms, except on a song called "I, Zombie", where we needed a more scooped and higher-pitched tom sound that I got by tuning the thin-shelled birch 12x8" and 16x14" Ddrum toms Jamie brought to the session. BTW, that's an old Slingerland bass drum shell being used as a tunnel to focus the bottom end of the Ddrum kick.

Mar 17, 2010

Really Tama? Really?

These warnings came with a Tama throne I just bought. Be careful out there kiddie's, drums can kill!

Mar 16, 2010

Larry and His Flask at The Outpost 3/10/10

I worked with a great band from Oregon called Larry and His Flask at The Outpost last week. My guitar-slinging buddy and former Dropkick Murphy Marc Orrell was producing and Ray Jeffrey was engineering. Drummer Jamin Marshall plays a simple kick and snare set up standing up! I really like these guys' approach, check 'em out when they come your way.